The Jaliigirr Biodiversity Alliance has launched the Gaarla-Ngurraa Fund in honour of one of their valued co-founders and dedicated supporter of the Great Eastern Ranges, Julie Woodroffe.
The moving launch was led by Gumbaynggirr Elders at Look At Me Now Headland near Coffs Harbour last Tuesday. The important Aboriginal site was chosen due to its deep significance to the traditional custodians of the land on which Jaliigirr operates.
Julie, who tragically passed away on 16 December 2019 following an eighteen-month battle with cancer, was a co-founder and the driving force behind the Jaliigirr Biodiversity Alliance.
The memorial fund was established in recognition of Julie’s considerable achievements in conservation, contribution to Jaliigirr and support for the Gumbaynggirr nation. She also played a critical role in GER’s successful transition to an independent NGO.
“Julie’s experience and skill in community development were absolutely critical to the successful evolution of GER from a government initiative to a fully-fledged, collaborative, community-based partnership,” says Bob Debus, Chair of the Great Eastern Ranges Initiative.
“It wasn’t just Julie’s expertise in community development that played a vital role in the early stages of the initiative. It was also the warmth of her personality, her capacity to work cooperatively and her ability to understand, build and nurture relationships with government and non-government organisations alike.”
Coffs Harbour and District Local Aboriginal Land Council (LALC) will facilitate the nomination of projects for consideration and endorsement by Gumbaynggirr elders with initial funding available of $5,000 a year.
“Gaarla-Ngurraa means ‘giving back’ in the Gumbaynggirr language. The fund will support on country projects, particularly the work of Gumbaynggirr women in land management and culture, as well as educating the wider community about Gumbaynggirr culture, land management practices and language,” says Programs Coordinator at Coffs Harbour and District LALC Mathew Smith.
Julie’s vision, depth of knowledge and strategic thinking has been a great inspiration to all who knew her. The Jaliigirr Biodiversity Alliance and Gaarla-Ngurraa Fund are a living legacy of her significant contribution to nature and community as well as her warm and generous spirit.